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Janet Laminack / Horticulture

Get trees in ground now

The best time to plant a tree in Texas is now.

Tree roots keep on growing anytime the soil temperature is above 40 degrees, which is common throughout our winter.

Getting a tree in the ground now gives the roots lots of time to develop and grow before the heat of summer hits. Texas Arbor Day was recently changed from April to the first Friday in November to signal to Texans this prime planting time.

We all know trees are good because they clean our air and keep soil in place in watersheds, but trees also have economic value. Trees can increase the value of a home’s resale by 10 percent. Properly placed trees can also help with heating and cooling expenses of the home. A deciduous tree (one that loses its leaves in the winter) placed on the south or west side of a home provides shade and cooling in the summer and allows for warming up in the winter.

When selecting a tree, remember that fast-growing often translates to fast-dying. Select a tree that is well suited to our area, such as oaks like bur, chinkapin, red oak and live oak. Lacebark elm and cedar elm do well, and pecans also make nice shade trees. (But pecans are not a good choice for planting over driveways or if you don’t like squirrels.)

You can also consider smaller trees or large shrubs such as redbud, crape myrtle, desert willow and wax myrtle. True, these trees won’t be gigantic shade trees, but they can make a positive impact and might be more appropriate and attractive by staying in scale with your home if it’s on a smaller urban lot.

Bear in mind the mature size of the tree when you plant it. How big will it be in 10, 20 or 30 years? Will it be in the power lines or crowding other trees? You also need to check that the tree isn’t close to anything underground. Before you dig, call 811 to have the underground utilities in your lawn marked for free.

I’d recommend doing some research on your own in order to pick your tree. Online sources such as the Texas Forest Service Tree Selector (http://texastreeplanting.tamu.edu) and the Earth-Kind Plant Selector (http://earthkind.tamu.edu) can provide you with much more information on the particular traits of trees that work well in North Texas.

For more advice on how to plant or select a tree, you can give us a call at 940-349-2892 or email us at master.gardener@dentoncounty.com.

JANET LAMINACK is the horticulture county extension agent with Texas AgriLife Extension. She can be reached at 940-349-2883 or jelaminack@ag.tamu.edu.